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Online Dating Scam Investigations

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Online dating scams are rife. Anyone can be targeted. You do not have to be rich and you do not have to be stupid. You just have to be looking for love, a search that causes you to be more vulnerable than usual. And love is the tool scammers use to pry open your bank account and strip you of your assets. By learning how to spot a scammer, you can protect yourself.


Spotting Discrepancies

  • Note any age difference in which you are the older one. Online dating scammers usually target people older than themselves. In the case of a male scammer, they often target middle aged women in their 50's to 60's. They believe these people to be ideal targets as they are usually richer and more vulnerable.


Look for the following descriptions in their profile:

  • Self employed, a professional (for example, an engineer) working overseas
  • A widower with a child (or just widowed)
  • They claim to live near you, in your country, currently away but will be returning soon.

aid1767113-728px-spot-an-online-dating-scammer-step-3-version-2Do a Photo Check

  Save a copy of their profile picture. Use Google image search. Check the results. Are they already marked up as scammers or is the return illegitimate in some way? Report to the dating site giving the evidence, including any website links.


  • Check other photos you receive. Look for signs that don't seem to gel with who you understand this person to be. For example, check the background, landscapes and even clocks or calendars. Can you see identifying features that do not match with the picture this person has built up of themselves?
  • Note discrepancies that are a dead giveaway. For example:
  • They say they have been away, yet their profile shows them online (most likely chatting up some other victim online).
  • The profile shows geographic inconsistencies, often referencing places that are not in geographic proximity to where they live.

Reading or Listening Between the Lines


  • Look closely at emails they send you. The scammer will send you an email which is full of inconsistencies, often getting their own name or your name wrong. It will be badly written and repeat itself. Watch for these other signs:
  • Their command of your language deteriorates with time. They may even start out having no clue about grammar or punctuation.
  • They make mistakes, in that their "story" begins to contradict itself here and there.
  • They mix pronouns (he/she, him/her).
  • They mention things that seem entirely unrelated to the profile they've built up of themselves, or that seem too revealing and even unbelievable.
  • Talk. Phone conversations can often unravel a fake. When you hear this person on the phone, note whether they have a slight accent and use awkward phrases; if their accent does not match their supposed origin, be suspicious. Ask them probing questions and trust your gut instinct about the validity of the replies.
  • If phoning, beware a cell phone number that does not match the area in which they claim to live. This often means that the person is not in the same country at all. Match the cell phone number and the area code with the state or province they claim to live in.
  • If you spot a number discrepancy, beware excuses. They may tell you they've just moved or didn't bother to change it when they did because it would be too hard to contact all their friends with a new number.

Beware Speed


  • Be suspicious of rapid escalation. If the person suggests that the communication switch to phone calls and texting asap, be alarmed. Then, if the phone calls and texting rapidly escalate in expressions of love and passion, and within a matter of 5 to 6 weeks they tell you that they have fallen in love, be very alarmed.
  • Over-the-top expressions of feelings for you even though you haven't met are a warning sign.
  • Watch out for the catch. When they think they have you on their hook, this is when they reel you in. They will tell you they are on their way home to be with you to start a new life together. But then out of the blue they will say they have a financial emergency. They will ask for money to be sent to them immediately to get them out of a fix. If you do not send them money or insist on safeguards in the sending of any, they will pull out the trust card, saying: Where there is no trust, there can be no relationship. Take that as your cue to walk away for good.aid1767113-728px-spot-an-online-dating-scammer-step-9
  • Think about why it is that this person has all the time in the world to text or email you but cannot manage to meet you in person. That's a telling sign of the faker.


  • Do not supply additional images of yourself or your family as these can be used by a scammer to scam someone else.
  • Never give personal background information as this can be used for identity theft.
  • During the first communication, they want to know what you do to earn your living. It tells them if you are a good financial prospect.
  • Ask to meet. If you cannot meet a potential partner, they probably do not exist.
  • Never provide specific information like addresses or home phone numbers.
  • If you are emailing, Google has a feature that shows you which people are in their circle. It might be a different user but the same group of people.
  • Never tell a potential date any detailed financial information.
  • If you suspect you are being scammed, stop contact immediately and report the scammer to the authorities. In Australia there is a website called There are similar sites in other countries.
  • Watch out for cut and paste profiles. Do a Google search of different elements of the profile, especially where it seems "glued" together.
  • Pull down photos and see if you can get 'date created' info through Google+ or other software. Photos 5 years or older can be a sign of dishonesty.
  • They will mostly suggest using MoneyGram as the company to send money. There is no way to trace the money.
  • If they claim to be in the military doing intelligence work overseas that he can't discuss, do your research. Get a photo, in uniform and find out if it matches the rank they say.


  • Remember: ''If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!''
  • If you are being contacted by a mobile with a +4470 +4475 or a +6010 or +6013 prefix, it is probably scammer. These are the prefixes used by scammers in the UK and Malaysia at the moment. And these scammers work in teams.